Amid the ailments, Adams still can contend
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – When Blake Adams emerged on the leaderboard Thursday morning at The Players Championship, he was just one of the 144 whom we all say can win this golf tournament.
And on Sunday night, that might be true. Perhaps, like Mark Hayes, Calvin Peete, Jodie Mudd, Craig Perks and Fred Funk before him, Adams, who shot 6-under 66 during Thursday's first round, could win The Players.
The difference with Adams, 36, would be the most surprising, considering he is physically a mess.
The 2012 Players Championship: Round 1
Check out photos from the first round of the 2012 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
A jock in his younger days, Adams has broken every finger on each hand, has torn rotator cuffs, broken his left ankle and has a bulging disk in his back. Perhaps most surprising among Adams' litany of physical ailments is that he has the left hip of a 60-year-old man. Nonetheless, Adams shot 5-under 31 on the front nine at TPC Sawgrass – including a bogey – in only his second appearance. He missed the cut here last year.
“I was told in 2008 I need total hip replacement,” Adams said earlier in the year about a diagnosis after the 2008 Nationwide Tour season. “I get cortisone shots twice a year, and I opted to not go through surgery back then and just did, like, a ton of rehab.”
Adams, a 2001 Georgia Southern graduate, took three months off, didn’t swing a club and just totally focused on rehab. He entered the 2009 Nationwide season as healthy as he could be and finished third on the money list to gain his card for the 2010 season.
“I have fought injuries my entire career, and it’s just something that I just deal with every week," he said. "I have my good days, bad days. Cold weather, that isn’t great for a man that needs a brand new hip. But it’s just the hand I was dealt, and I just deal with it.”
Adams has struggled in 2012, missing eight cuts in 14 starts, with his best finish a tie for ninth at Puerto Rico after a getting cortisone shot at the conclusion of the West Coast Swing.
The shot, which has become a bi-annual ritual, helps Adams hit his preferred cut off the tee. Even with the assistance of the cortisone, Adams still has problems hitting the shots he envisions and continually requires stretching and rehab to loosen the hip.
Adams has had his card locked up the Past two years by about June and has contemplated getting hip-replacement surgery and having a full season of being healthy, but he wonders, what if the surgery doesn’t work?
“I’ve had a lot of people say, 'You know, just why don’t you go ahead and have it done?' And I’m like, well, how if I was at a bank and I’m sitting on a desk and I don’t really need my left hip, that’s fine, but if it doesn’t work, what then? Adams summarized earlier this year. “Then I’m done. I mean, I can play now. I have my days my weeks, but I have also great weeks where I don’t feel anything. So it’s kind of hit-and-miss. For me, it’s just dealing with it, and that’s always been my mentality. I don’t ask for excuses or whatever. I just deal with it, and I just go on.”